Flash, Flashlite, SVG and Java

Flash is a huge success on the web. It’s been like that for a long time now.

SVG is a recommendation (read standard) by the W3C that should address some of the functionalities of Flash.

While Flash Lite has been very successful in Japan for many years (and I think simply because DoCoMo decided it would be the default on all devices), it has struggled in the rest of the world.

In the last couple of years Nokia, Sony Ericsson and other top vendors have more or less quietly implemented SVG Tiny (a subset of SVG for mobile devices). From my perspective it seemed like SVG would take over Flash (Lite) in the mobile space, but it looks Adobe is moving to make sure this does not happen.

A few news that I’ve read in the last couple of weeks, all within just a few days:

New WURFL Java API will be GPL?

DISCLAIMER: I run DeviceAtlas for dotMobi.

A thread about making the next version of the Java API of WURFL more OO, something that Java developers are certainly fond of, has spun in a thread about licensing.
I think a few developers have been caught by surprise. In short Luca wants to make the new API GPL, instead of the current MPL. It is still not clear which version of GPL and I think it is not yet definitive.
The problem that was raised is, of course, that changing the licence to GPL will compel all developers selling their software based on the WURFL API to open-source it and use the same version of GPL. Luca mentioned how mysql does not have this problem and how big companies like Google can use open-source softwares, but not release back to the community. This is of course a different case from mysql, because the API would be tightly embedded in the software and the licensing issue would affect mostly consultants, not companies doing internal development (like Google, in Luca’s example). If you think that WALL might be licensed in the same way, it might be even worse as WALL will certainly be a core part of any mobile application.

There is a solution to this, of course, a dual-licence. Also, special discounts are announced for companies buying consultancy.

I am curious to see how this will end. I hope the community will be able to find a feasible solution that will keep everyone happy.


Sun’s Mobility Pack uses WURFL

According to Lukas Hasik, Sun’s Mobility Pack 6.0 now uses WURFL to determine device capabilities. Lukas wrote about the new release of Mobility Pack citing that many developers wanted to get more information about devices. Thanks to WURFL they are now able to dig in and see device information.

Mobility Pack 6.0 is still under development, there’s a page to read the updates, Mobility Pack New and Noteworthy.
Mobility Pack is part of NetBeans.

GAIA Image Transcoder

A few weeks ago I had a nice lunch with two guys from Open Reply, Michele and Patrick. Reply is an italian IT company, very big. Open Reply is a division that is focused on open-source projects.
Our lunch has been a work-lunch, of course, and was centered around the idea of releasing some of their software as open-source.

GAIA Image Transcoder or GIT is a Java library to transcode images. The project was born as part of a bigger project to provide content in many different formats that would be suitable for the web, for WAP browser and more. It is an ambitious project built of a set of modules that allow them to produce the desired layouts.
GIT is part of that and is the part that takes care of reading an image in “any” format and produce, if needed, a new image suitable for the browser requesting the content.

The project is developed on top of standards and de-facto standards like JAI, Apache Commons Discovery and WURFL, of course.
Needless to say that WURFL is the source that is used to understand what size and format is supported by the browser.

What I really like about the release is that it’s a pure open-source project, licensed with the very permissive LGPL license, but has the big shoulders of a big IT company and you can see this by all the documentation and the comments in the source.
This is another good sign of how a company can take good inspiration from the open-source and try to give something back to the community.

Open Reply is not only looking for contributors, but also for comments, bug reports and suggestions of how to improve it. I think they have the best approach and a lot of openness to new ways of making business.
The project is hosted on sourceforge and the files can already be downloaded and tested.

Best wishes to this new product in the big family of the open-source and of WURFL.

Ericsson chooses WURFL as “industry solution”

One of our loyal users of WURFL and wmlprogramming posted on the mailing list a reference to a new developer tool provided by Ericsson (not Sony Ericsson!) to produce mobile-optimized web pages.

a1zydi writes on wmlprogramming “WALL and MobileFaces library” (free subscription to the mailing list is required) to name this new library from Ericsson called Mobile JSF Kit.

Quoting from the site:

The Mobile JSF (JavaServer Faces) Kit consists of the MobileFaces core library, a developer’s guide and sample applications to help Java EE developers to rapidly develop internet mobile applications.

The library comes with a complete documentation describing how to install and use and even an expected timeframe to learn JSF and the toolkit. Very nice.
Modules are also supported and they already released an extra template module for dotMobi compliant pages and CHTML (i-mode).

What I think is a great news for WURFL is that they decided to use our little project as the foundation to build their own implementation.
The documentation goes down into the details of how to download the XML, the Java API, install and configure.

Quoting from Chapter 4.4:

You can determine a lot of device features from the request head. But it is still restricted. For example, you cannot determine the screen size from the request head. Is there any better solution for the device feature source in the industry?

WURFL is such an industry solution for the device feature source.

If you like JSF and want to start a mobile project, this library is probably a good place to go, download and have something already done to use as a foundation.